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Wednesday, Oct. 4
The Indiana Daily Student

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Radical inclusivity series will offer presentation on tokenism in classroom


The College of Arts and Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion has invited guest speaker and professor Richard Meyers to speak during a radical inclusivity presentation series 12 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the President’s Room in the Indiana Memorial Union. 

The presentation titled “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” will address how cultural communication, which is the way people of different backgrounds communicate, affects the classroom. 

Meyers is the interim director of graduate studies at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He is an anthropologist who studies cultural communication, said Carmen Henne-Ochoa, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at IU.

One of the main focuses of this presentation is to have faculty reflect on how their social standing affects the way students learn, Henne-Ochoa said. It is co-sponsored by the College’s Division of Social and Historical Sciences, the American Indian Studies Research Institute and the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center.

Henne-Ochoa said the radical inclusivity series will have presentations, workshops and short lectures and discussions organized by the College Office of Diversity and Inclusion for faculty and instructional staff to reflect on questions of diversity, inclusion and equity.

There will be more presentations this semester, including a presentation March 5 from John Gates, the vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Purdue University on examining how liberal privilege either helps or damages us in diversity efforts, Henne-Ochoa said.

This presentation is looking to help faculty understand how they affect student’s learning and the climate of IU, Henne-Ochoa said. She said faculty may not have negative intentions but they can sometimes accidentally reinforce negative stereotypes.

“This is really a brave space for faculty and staff to gather,” Henne-Ochoa said.

The presentation on Thursday will focus on how faculty engage with students' identities in the classroom. Faculty will learn about how how it's different for students to express their identity inside the classroom than outside the classroom. It will also address how minorities are essentialized and often asked to speak on behalf of their entire communities.

Henne-Ochoa said the ultimate goal of this presentation is to have faculty interrogate their positions and challenge their own identities. They need to unpack this and then make the appropriate changes to their syllabi, curriculum, assigned readings and more, she said.

She said Meyers was invited to speak during this series because the College Office of Diversity and Inclusion was looking for speakers with proactive approaches to these issues.

“They are willing to push the conversation to a deeper level and willing to speak to capacity building around skills and knowledge,” Henne-Ochoa said.

IU's College Office of Diversity and Inclusion launched the radical inclusivity series in fall 2019 with a presentation by two deaf scholars from Gallaudet University. The short lectures and discussions in this series are delivered by professors at IU or other partners on campus, Henne-Ochoa said.

The events in the radical inclusivity series are free to attend for IU faculty and instructional staff and can be registered for online. There will be a lunch included at the event on Thursday paid for by the College Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the name of the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion. It also failed to clarify what faculty will learn at the Thursday presentation. The IDS regrets these errors.

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